Ellery Eskelin's Ten
Anyway, back to the presentation which does pose a problem for the reviewer just as it proved to be a problem for me. SM reviews TEN in the context of the band's past work which is of course the obvious procedure. We released a recording called RAMIFICATIONS some years back (EE, AP, JB with Joe Daley on tuba and Erik Friedlander on cello) and I was quick to point out that it wasn't EE, AP, JB with guests, it was it's own thing. With TEN it's trickier. I actually do think of this as EE, AP, JB with guests but it's also something more than that because the music took on qualities that I didn't expect, that didn't quite fit my initial idea of what I was presenting. To complicate matters there are many cuts in which EE, AP, JB do not all play together. Do cuts like "More Than That" (with Eskelin, Gibbs and Black) have much to do with EE w/AP JB? Perhaps only by proximity and context if at all. What I do know is that a transformation has occurred and the band is now something new. As for the outakes...maybe one day. But the pieces that I chose for this project were the ones that surprised me the most.
So I think that SM raises all the right questions in his final paragraph and if he doesn't have the answers that's OK because neither do I. So does this undermine the validity of my presentation? Hard to say but just what the outcome will be is still somewhat undetermined. We just finished a tour of Europe with Jessica Constable and I'm very inclined to say that that is the new band. Or maybe it's simply one version of several possibilities. I can still see EE w/AP & JB performing in new towns for audiences who haven't heard us yet but I think the future for us involves more than three.
So TEN is the EE w/ AP & JB project that's not really an EE w/ AP & JB project. But I do think that TEN functions well as a companion piece to our DVD ON THE ROAD WITH... , another EE, AP, JB project that is something other than an EE, AP, JB project. Together they present a portrait of where we've arrived after ten years and point the way towards some new directions.
Oh, and one small correction to SM's review. Jessica appears on four cuts, not three. And as long as we're at it, Melvin Gibbs plays on four and Marc Ribot on five. I play on all cuts, Andrea plays on all but five and Jim on all but two. And there are two cuts on which EE, AP & JB play as a band. I could have made that clear on the sleeve but for some reason I liked presenting the music as a whole (not the result of the nuts and bolts) since in the end it's really only the music that matters anyway. How we got there is just a diversion.
Track listing: 1. If Not Now 2. Tell me When 3. Anyone's Guess 4. Say it Again 5. Ask to Be 6. More Than That 7. Anywhere, Not Here 8. If So 9. Ask Me Why 10. No Illusions 11. I Couldn't Say 12. Take Me
Personnel: Ellery Eskelin - tenor saxophone; Andrea Parkins - piano, accordion and sampler; Jim Black - drums and percussion; Jessica Constable - voice; Marc Ribot - guitar; Melvin Gibbs - bass